1.         Historic Centre of Riga (Latvia) (C 852)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1997

Criteria  (i)(ii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/852/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1996-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 99,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/852/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Urban Pressure.

Additional Details:

Construction of a skyscraper

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/852/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

The Latvian authorities have provided a report with update information on the implementation of the law adopted in 2003 and the construction project "Saules akmens" as requested by the Committee at its 27th session, including the:


(a) Draft preservation and development plan: To date the draft preservation and development plan for the Historic Centre of Riga has not been finalised. The Riga City Council, which is working on the completion of the plan is taking into account the proposal "Vision 2020" which was developed in 2002 by the State Inspection for Heritage Preservation.


(b) Law on "On Preservation and Protection of the Historic Centre of Riga": In order to comply with the obligations under the World Heritage Convention, a new law was prepared "On Preservation and Protection of the Historic Centre of Riga" and adopted in June 2003. The new law determines the precise area of the World Heritage site and its buffer zone. By letter of 3 February 2004, the State Inspection for Heritage Protection has informed the Centre that the Constitutional Court of Latvia has recognised the Law  "On Preservation and Protection of the Historic Centre of Riga" in response to the appeal of the Municipality of Riga to annul some of the essential norms. A Council of Preservation and Development of the Historic Centre of Riga has been set up under this law, which meets twice a month to review issues concerning the preservation and development of the site. It is a consultative institution with members from state and municipality authorities. Draft regulations for the protection, preservation, utilisation and transformation of the cultural historical environment as well as for the implementation of development projects has been submitted to the Government for adoption in February 2004.  Changes to the General Construction regulations have also been introduced which determine that building permission for any construction within a state protected monument or its protection zone will only be issued after the State Inspection has granted permission. According to these regulations the State Inspection also has the authority to halt construction works if normative enactments are violated. The State Inspection of Heritage Protection has drafted proposals for the preservation and development plan of the Historic Centre of Riga - "Vision 2020". The document serves as basis for developing preservation and development model for the Historic Centre of Riga drafted by the Riga City Council.


(c) The "Saules akmens" project: Despite the concentrated efforts of the Ministry for Culture, the State Inspection and the National Commission the project could not be stopped due to eventual economic loss. However an improvement of the architectural volume and the preservation of public space have been achieved. The following revisions have been made: The building height has been reduced and the silhouette of building has been narrowed, to improve visibility of the city panorama of the right bank; building area has been reduced and the green space has been expanded, reducing parking to 100 places; entrance drive has been transformed to underground parking place, thus widening the view of Old Riga; construction of extra elevator in the height of 8 storeys with glass walls for public use to allow visitor to view Old Riga and surroundings; expanded green area with lawn and pool for sightseeing of right bank of River Daugava.


ICOMOS acknowledged the adoption of the Law on the Preservation and Protection of Riga´s Historical centre in April 2003 and suggests speedy implementation. The Law on the Preservation and Protection of Riga´s Historical Centre gives the legal framework for co-operation between different actors (national and local authorities, decision makers and experts) to preserve and develop Historic Centre of Riga as a World Heritage Site.  An instrument for management of the Riga World Heritage site is the "Riga Historic Centre preservation and development plan", which is to be adopted in 2004. The management plan shall be in full accordance with the guidelines set up by the World Heritage Committee.


ICOMOS requested that the construction project be reviewed and to fully guarantee the respect of the approved detailed plan of Kipsala in order to protect the World Heritage property and its visual integrity. ICOMOS stated that the project has been reviewed according to the building volume but not to the number of storeys. This was ICOMOS’ main concern in its report in June 2003. The completed building would be 26 storeys high while the Kipsala area detail plan adopted in 2001 accepts only 15 storeys. ICOMOS expresses its concern that the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee have not been respected. 


According to the report other proposed development activities that could degrade culture historical environment in Kipsala are stopped and will not be implemented. In ICOMOS’s understanding this includes the plans to build a marina at Kipsala.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15B.74

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Noting the information provided by the Latvian authorities on the construction project within the buffer zone,

2. Acknowledges the efforts undertaken by national authorities to implement the Law on the Preservation and Protection of Riga’s Historical Centre 2003;

3. Regrets that the recommendations of the Committee have not been respected (Decision 27 COM 7B.69);

4. Encourages the State Party to finalize and implement the preservation and development plan for the Historic Centre of Riga, in close co-operation with the City authorities, and to ensure an overall vision for the site, including the town planning strategy and a comprehensive urban management;

5. Requests the State Party to carefully review all projects foreseen in the area and its buffer zone, including conducting a visual impact study, and to provide an up-date report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2005 including a confirmation that any new building will fully respect the visual integrity of the Historical Centre of Riga and the historical watercourses will be preserved as open public space without any new buildings for examination by the Committee at its 29th session in 2005.